Feb 5, 2019

Hospitals' prices keep going up

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Hospitals are very expensive and they keep getting more expensive, very quickly.

Driving the news: Hospital fees are rising much faster than doctors' fees, and hospitals are driving almost all of the price increases for certain common procedures, according to a new study published in Health Affairs.

Details: The study focused on 4 common procedures, using insurers' claims data to track the real prices patients and insurers paid for those services between 2007 and 2014.

By the numbers: For inpatient care, hospitals' prices rose 42% over that period, compared to 18% for doctors. Hospitals’ fees for outpatient care went up 25%, compared to 6% for doctors.

  • About 80% of the total cost goes to the hospital, whether you're in an inpatient or outpatient setting.
  • As care has gotten more expensive, hospitals have driven the increase. The total cost of a vaginal delivery, for example, went up by roughly 30% over this 7-year period — and hospitals' fees accounted for almost 90% of that increase.

Prices are also highly variable, even within the same city.

  • Now that the federal government is forcing hospitals to post their prices online, Kaiser Health News dug into the data to see what hospitals are charging for the same services.
  • For example: What’s the price for a liter of IV fluid? At one Los Angeles hospital, it's $146. At another L.A. hospital just a few miles away, it's $383. At New York Presbyterian, it's $473.
  • These are hospitals' sticker prices, not the prices you and your insurance plan would actually pay.

The bottom line: For patients, figuring out what a hospital visit will cost is all but impossible. For economists looking at the system as a whole, the cost of hospital care is a little clearer: It's high, and climbing fast.

Go deeper: Think drug costs are bad? Try hospital prices

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Top Trump ally sounds 2020 election alarm over coronavirus response

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There is growing concern among top conservative leaders that the Trump administration isn't addressing the long-term economic impact of the coronavirus, several sources tell Axios. One top adviser said if the recovery is bungled it could cost President Trump the election.

What we're hearing: "The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets reelected," Stephen Moore, Trump's former nominee for the Federal Reserve board, told Axios. If the administration mishandles its economic recovery efforts, he said, Trump is "in big trouble."

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,600,427 — Total deaths: 95,506 — Total recoveries: 354,006Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 465,329 — Total deaths: 16,513 — Total recoveries: 25,410Map.
  3. Public health latest: U.S. has expelled thousands of migrants under a CDC public health orderDr. Anthony Fauci said social distancing could reduce the U.S. death toll to 60,000.
  4. Business latest: The Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion for businesses, state and city governments — After another 6.6 million jobless claims, here's how to understand the scale of American job decimation.
  5. 2020 latest: Top conservative leaders are concerned the Trump administration isn't addressing the virus' long-term economic impact.
  6. States latest: FEMA has asked governors to decide if they want testing sites to be under state or federal control.
  7. World latest: Lockdowns have led to a decline in murders in some of the world's most violent countries — Boris Johnson is moved out of the ICU but remains in hospital with coronavirus.
  8. In Congress: Senate in stalemate over additional funding for small business relief program.
  9. 1 SNL thing: "Saturday Night Live" will return this weekend in a remotely produced episode.
  10. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredPets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Federal court temporarily blocks coronavirus order against some abortions

Gov. Greg Abbott. Photo: Tom Fox-Pool/Getty Images

A federal judge ruled Thursday that clinics in Texas can immediately offer medication abortions — a pregnancy termination method administered by pill — and can also provide the procedure to patients nearing the state's time limits for abortions.

Driving the news: The decision comes after federal appeals court ruled 2-1 on Tuesday in favor of an executive order by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott that prohibits abortions during the coronavirus outbreak.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy